1. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    First person within third person.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by RIPPA MATE, Aug 6, 2009.

    I was wondering what people think of the idea of a first person segment within a third person novel (or any kind of story for that matter).

    I have done it in my novel. The context goes: instead of my character telling her story, of how she fled, as dialogue to the other characters. I decided to be a tiny bit radical and write the chapter in proper first person.

    In light of this my main question is what do people think of this complete switch in point of view? Have you done it yourself? Have you seen it effectivly done by others? Have you seen it done well in other writings? If so what do you think is the key?

    To me in my context it seems to work. I feel it is right and it connects with the story. I personally didn't feel that if I told the segment in third person with a norm POV change, that it would have been right.

    but anyway, thoughts?

    RM
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The transition between first and third POVs can be jarring, so I would never recommend it. That is not to say no one can make it work, just that it has to be managed well. I don't see an advantage to it, when you could use a close-focuse third person perspective instead of the first person excursion with considerably less pain.
     
  3. Operaghost
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    I have done this in some of my short storied before, seeing as i write a lot of scripts as well this is the equivilent of a voice-over on screen,or an aside the main issue you will face is not to do it too often as it can become jarring, and often becomes expositional. To be honest i really only use it at the start of a story or chapter, so it feels more natural and only if it can futher the story in anyway, for instance, a character looking back on their life and a certain event which is then told in third person.
     
  4. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    If you can write better than Stephen King, then go ahead.

    If you can't--don't.
     
  5. hawkedup
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    hawkedup Member

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    I say go for it. You should never be afraid to push the envelope. I'd imagine the immediate response to this idea is negative because it is so rarely done. I'm writing a novel in which, from chapter to chapter, I sometimes not only change from first to third person but tenses and even styles--including one chapter written entirely in Homer-esque verse. And it works perfectly with what I'm trying to do. On the other hand, I've written far more stories where I've tried such things and it doesn't work at all. But whether it works or not, you shouldn't be afraid to try it. Sometimes you'll have an idea you don't think will work, but after you try it you find that not only does it work, but you can take it a lot further. And if you try it and it doesn't work, then no biggie. That's what the backspace button is for.
     
  6. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    This would work if, say, the character was writing a letter, or something. But what you're saying, OP, just seems jarring and unnecessary. Unless you're going to pull a Heart of Darkness and make the whole chapter mostly long stretches of dialogue.
     
  7. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Um... what?

    Just do what's best for your story, TS. If writing it the way you describe makes for a better story, then do it that way, long as you believe you can pull it off. If it's just a "Hey, look at me!" kinda thing that would be done to the detriment of your piece, then don't. If it neither helps nor hinders, who cares? Go with what you feel.
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Without reading it, I couldn't say.
     
  9. lovely
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    Philippa Gregory does this in The Constant Princess. She narrates in third person, but when she wants to show the thoughts of her MC she goes into first. I have to say that it was pretty confusing at first, and it tends to be a little distracting. I don't particularly like it, but you could always look at it in a published work and see what you think. Obviously a publisher thought it was good enough, although Gregory was already a fairly famous author.
     
  10. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I sometimes go into first person when showing the inner dialogue going in a pov character's mind. Like with anything in writing, it depends on how your style is and if you can pull it off.
     
  11. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    Hey guys, I think everybody is right here. And what i'm doing is probably insane, but i don't care it works. I have thought of the other possibities of doing i you were wondering.
    As for more details about my approach, I've told it as a dream. The main character is dreaming that he is the other character, which is actaully telling the story to another character while he sleeps. What i mean is it is not straight out, as in suddenly the pov changes in the next chapter. It begins and ends with third person to make it flow. Which i think is necessarary.
    And there is my advise if anyone is thinking of doing it. Flow is the key. get rid off as much jarring as you can.
     
  12. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    I do this every so often too. And yep, style and pulling it off is the key. What i'm doing fits with my style so yaa...
     
  13. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I actually like it when books do this.

    In MechWarrior: By Blood Betrayed, there are two protagonists. One character's story is told in third person, the other is told in first person through his journal entries. It was really cool, but this was mainly done because the story was written by two authors. Sadly only the first person parts written by the second author were any good. The first and original author was terrible, but luckily the main story itself was good enough that I didn't care.
     
  14. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only time I saw this was in R.A. Salvatores works, well as far as I know the ones containing his Drizzt character. Mostly they are in the form of journal or an excerpt from a memoir.

    But thats about it.

    Well I have read a book I believe where it would sometimes breifly go into the characters heads, but usually it made it clear they were the characters thoughts.
     
  15. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    James Patterson, I think its called Roses are Red. The POV of the villain was written in the first person while the protagonist was written in third person. I thought it was pretty cool. The machinations of the evil mastermind was far creepier this way.
     
  16. Operaghost
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    actually patterson uses this method often in his thrillers and several other crime authors have usd it as well. If done correctly it can add tension as you ar privvy to the inner workings of the criminals mind, yet are still in the position of actually not knowing who it is.
     
  17. Zybahn
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    Zybahn New Member

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    Personally, I like it when writers play with convention, & I like being jarred. As a reader I want to "work" while reading & there are so many unspoken rules about what NOT to do with point of view rather than encourage people to find ways & reasons to do them that way.

    A couple of books of I can think of at the top of my head switch from first to third & back again, like Steinbeck in The Winter of Our Discontent & Atwood in The Edible Woman. Both use it for a distinct purpose & both are successful at it. I'll post other examples as I think of them, if you care.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's not a good idea to be different for the sake of being different. Be different because you know why the difference will work better than a more conventional approach.

    Gimmicks won't make you a better writer, You need to be a better writer to write differently without making it a gimmick.
     
  19. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    I've seen it used in very lengthy novels, usually when a character is relaying information to another character about an event he/she witnessed, or when a character is reading a letter, diary etc. Only use it if it's appropriate and/or necessary. If you don't do it right, you can easily confuse the reader...
     
  20. Fox Favinger
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    Man I say that all the time lol. Usually I'm talking about music though. :)

    I like the two protagonist approach, but use it how you see fit. Just use it effectively.
     
  21. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's what I say to people who speak with accents. They're all, "I pahked the cah," or some nonsense, and I tell them, "You had better have a darn good reason for not talking the same as everybody else."
     

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